Odd Society Spirits' Mia Amata Amaro is Vancouver's best bitter.

Odd Society Spirits' Mia Amata Amaro is Vancouver's best bitter.

By Sujinder Juneja

Of the five basic tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, umami), bitter may be the most misunderstood and underappreciated. Nevertheless, its presence in food and drinks keeps the other flavour sensations in check, maintaining a sense of balance.

The Mia Amata Amaro from Odd Society Spirits is not only beautiful and balanced, but in our opinion is Vancouver’s best bitter.

An Amaro (Italian for bitter) is a liqueur made by macerating a proprietary combination of sometimes dozens of flavourful herbs, bark, roots, flowers and citrus peels in a neutral spirit, which is then blended with sugar before resting and maturing in bottle or cask.

A passion project three years in the making, the Mia Amata (which translates as “my beloved”) was co-produced by distiller Gordon Glanz and his daughter Mia, the namesake for this sensual spirit. In 2013, before the distillery opened, Mia was studying ethnobotany at UBC and learned that indigenous cultures in Brazil utilized certain tree barks for their aphrodisiac properties. Tasting research showed that some of these barks could be used similarly to those used in traditional liqueurs. She eventually settled on a heady blend that includes myrrh gum, kola nut, candied plum, cacao and vanilla bean, mace, elderflower and magnolia, sourced from Somalia, Mexico, India and British Columbia.

The colour is a gorgeous tawny with a kiss of russet. The nose offers musky aromas of dried orange peel, Christmas cake, cola, black cherries, sweet potato, and red apple. The creamy palate reveals flavours that also include vanilla, cinnamon, dark chocolate, guava, lavender and mint.

At 30% alcohol, this spirit is enjoyed best chilled, ideally neat, or with a twist of lemon or orange as suits your taste. When trying a spirit for the first time, it’s recommended to sample it on its own so it can be properly appreciated. Want to use it in a cocktail? Try it as a key component in a Negroni or Boulevardier in place of Campari.

Watch for a behind-the-scenes interview with Mia Glanz coming soon to The Planter’s Guide.

What: Mia Amata Amaro

Where: Odd Society Spirits, 1725 Powell Street, Vancouver

Price: $22.00 / 375ml bottle